1920s london, 1920s paris, 1930s hollywood, baz lurhmann, bootleg gin, british class system, f. scott fitzgerald, flappers, Irving Thalberg, jazz age, lady sylvia ashley, mobsters, norma shearer, suffragettes, the great gatsby
In my opinion The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of the greatest novels of all time. I attended the first showing of Baz Lurhmann’s film version last night at a fully packed three-theater mob scene (in costume, no less) and my opinion was further cemented.
Besides his signature fast-paced editing and glitzy eye candy, Lurhmann gave us the Jazz Age in all its excess and decadence, slightly modernized. He also respectfully held fast to Fitzgerald’s amazing story filled with tragedy, pathos, obsession and unrequited love. What a glorious bouquet!
The flappers and mobsters, bootleg gin and speakeasies were an American phenomenon, but across the pond in London, a similar social revolution was happening—and Silky was part of it.
The British class system was breaking down after World War I and suffragettes were altering the landscape for women. Though alcohol was not banned, fashion and attitudes were shifting no less dramatically. Paris in the twenties was a kingdom for writers, Fitzgerald being the crowned prince of the literary royalty.
Later, when Fitzgerald was passé in the 1930s, he went to Hollywood to write screenplays. At one of Irving Thalberg and Norma Shearer’s famous brunches, his path crossed Sylvia’s. I like to imagine that if they’d met sooner, in Fitzgerald’s heyday, they might have been fast friends.